So, wow, it’s been ages since I’ve gotten around to doing… anything! I’ve moved to Perth, and really started gearing up my Etsy and working on that (finally), so blogging was put on the back burner a bit. I’ve also started getting more Kraft-tex (washable paper leather, to those not “In the Know”), and selling the surplus in Australia. Apparently it’s rarer than unicorn farts, but a pretty popular material!
1. So what is this mythical product and what can I use it for?
Kraft-tex (sometimes spelled Krafttex, or Kraftex) is actually a paper product that when washed and worked, turns into kind of a leather-y heard-wearing material. It’s manufactured by C&T Publishing, who are generally known for scrapbooking stuff.
From the horse’s mouth:
[Kraft-tex is a] tough, touchable new paper combines the best of leather and fabric. Wait until you get your hands on this rugged paper that looks, feels, and wears like leather, but sews, cuts, and washes just like fabric. kraft. · tex® is supple, yet strong enough to use for projects that get tough wear.
The jean manufacturing industry has been using this product for AGES, as a replacement to the traditional leather tags found on jeans:
You’ve definitely seen this material before, and felt it, and probably thought it WAS leather! Or am I just speaking of myself and my horrible realisation? Anyways, onwards on how to deal with this interesting stuff…
Lovely, you say, but other than jeans labels, what on earth could I use this for?
Lots of stuff! Kraft-Tex can be used anywhere you would use leather, or want to use something a bit stronger than fabric. Since it can be cut, sewn, glued, painted, punched, ink jet printed, embossed (amongst other things), you can use it for:
- Making handbags, clutches, pouches
- Wallets, coin purses, card wallets
- Strong handbag straps
- Key fobs
- Notebook covers
- Decorative accents (applique, embossed accents, etc.)
- Storage bags
- Flower pots
This is not an exhaustive list… I’d have a look at Pinterest, google, and all the like. There’s a lot of information out there from a lot of cool people! I’ve mainly used it for making bags and accessories, like this zipper clutch:
2. Where to Buy Kraft-Tex (i.e. shameless plug)
I couldn’t find this stuff in Australia (apparently Spotlight had it at some point, but it’s long gone), so I started ordering rolls. I currently sell meter sections in my Etsy shop, as well as some A4 size sample packs and swatch packs. Link to the shop below!
3. Making Kraft-Tex feel like leather
So you’ve just got a roll or section of Kraft-Tex, and it’s pretty tough. More like flexible cardboard, less like leather. Don’t panic! This is okay. You just have to treat it a little bit to get the leather effect*. Don’t forget that you can use it straight out the package for straps or feeding it through your ink jet printer.
I’ve successfully used two methods to work the Kraft-Tex into a pliable, scrunchy leather-y form, which I’ve outlined below:
Method 1: Hand scrunch, aka Old School
- Take a the piece of Kraft-Tex you want to work with, and run under warm water, scrunching it up as you go. Remember to cut a bit more than you need, because it will wrinkle and stay like that! You don’t want it to scrunch too much that it no longer fits.
- Scrunch, rub, roll– work it just like a hard leather you’re trying to make soft.
- Soak the Kraft-tex in HOT water, scrunched up in a ball, for at least 30 minutes. You want the Kraft-tex to get really saturated and soak up the water.
- Once it’s done soaking, scrunch it some more and work it until you’ve achieved the desired amount of “doneness”.
- Flatten it out and let dry on a rack.
When the Kraft-tex is still wet, you can add pigment. That’s what I did with the zippered clutch when adding the blank ink; I wanted more of a ‘watercolour’ effect and the ink to spread through the wet fabric:
I definitely had a good time making this!
Or you can let it completely dry, and then feel free to go whole hog with paints, pens, markers, etc.
Method 2: Machine Wash, aka Laziness or Practical Approach
For this next approach, it won’t result in a too-crinkly Kraft-tex, so after it comes out of the machine you will may still want to hand work it a bit and then let it dry.
- Put the Kraft-tex in the washing machine. I stick it in with some other towels (not your delicates!). This helps to agitate it a bit more to get a bit of roughness.
- Run a standard cycle with gentle detergent. I use the ‘eco friendly’ stuff for this, otherwise there may be some residue still left on the material. Wash on hot if you can. Do not add bleach!
- Wait until the cycle is finished, then continue from Step 4 listed above. Simples!
*They now sell ‘pre-washed’ Kraft-tex from the manufacturer! But it’s easy enough to do it yourself.
4. Painting, inking, drawing, printing…
This will be under PART DEUX, coming soon!
But for a teaser, I marked on some white Kraft-Tex using 2 Sharpies and a standard Steadler felt tip pen. Then I washed them! Which medium will reign supreme with colour fastness?? Put your bets in below!